November 9, 2010

Addicted to Structure

First things first. I fear there is a dark cloud hovering over me when it comes to my pursuit of this sport sometimes. Just as the Cipro ban ended, I developed a case of what seemed to be a mile stomach virus. At first I wondered if it was just backlash from the indulgence I enjoyed while being incredibly lazy for 14 days, but when the fever, aches and chills hit I could no longer deny it. I was sick. And sick I remained from roughly 4am Sunday morning to now. Tonight is the first time I feel I've turned the corner, though it's 9:25 and I'm more than ready for bed.

So suffice it to say I have not yet returned to being a triathlete or at least someone that resembles one. If I have an ounce of energy tomorrow I may give it a try. But stomach bug aside, I had a realization while dragging myself to work this morning: I thrive on structure, on being scheduled and knowing exactly what needs to be done and when. I recently posted about needing a break from coaching so I could enjoy just the opposite - a life free of obligations. But now I'm wondering if having no schedule is like a get out of jail free pass when it comes to having any sense of needing to do a workout. There are those rare individuals who can wake up in the morning, decide on a whim what to do and go do it. I'm not one of them. I'm realizing I won't do anything at all if there isn't a plan in place.

There's a chance this is just typical offseason slack, we all do it, right? But there's a chance I need a more structured approach, even if it's a structure for my unstructured time. Looking back I remember accepting a new full-time job, and a big job no less, right at the same time I started training for my first Ironman. I had been consulting quite successfully for a year and had a very flexible schedule, something you'd think would be ideal for Ironman training. But there was a fear deep down that I'd handle the training better with more structure in my life and I was right. Not only was the job perfect for me, its daily demands forced me to meticulously plan every moment of activity around it. Or rather have my coach plan it, but you get the point.

When you think about it, a lot of triathletes exhibit Type A behavior. So it's no surprise we thrive on having daily schedules that would make most people jump off a bridge. Are you one of them? Let's hear what level of scheduling works for you.


  1. I have a very lax work schedule. I have found that because I make my own hours, I need to have some structure to my training, so I get it done. Usually it is as basic as; today is a run day or today is a swim and bike day.

    However, at the same time, the ability to make my own hours allows me to set work aside when it gets too stressful and go for a run to clear my head. My boss is very understanding and knows that if I duck out for an hour or two, when I get back I'll be far more productive than trying to force a solution to a problem.

    Hope you feel better soon! It seems like everyone is dealing with illness of some sort these days. Has it been too long since your ride with Jon to blame him??? :)

  2. I am a creature of habit during the "season": Monday is recovery bike and swim, tuesday is easy run, etc etc etc.

    If ONE day gets thrown off, I go bonkers. That is my type A+++ coming out; usually I am an A- personality.

    I work 9-6, M-F, so it is really easy to plan my week out. I wish during the summer I could do 10-7 or 11-8 just so I can get longer stuff in in the morning on a more consistent basis.

  3. Hi! Don't think I've introduced myself.. I've been following your blog from the 201Ironman blog.

    I am the exact same way! Before my 2010 season ended I told my Coach I wanted a structered off season plan. She refused! She told me I need to rest and not worry 'cause some January I will be very, very structered til July 24th in Placid! At first I protested but now I am trying to enjoy my time off. Going out with friends more, staying out late and going to support the other athletes/coaches in my life. But I do miss the structure because I really have to force myself to workout now.... I need to have it on a calendar in order for me to really do it!
    My work schedule is pretty hectic 9 months out of the year so I need to plan my training in advance as well. Right now I'm working from 830/9am to at least 7pm if not later.... that's another reason why I'm thankful for the off season!

  4. It's definitely off season - have you read my blog? You aren't alone!!!!

    I'm very structured. If I'm given the option of what to do, I panic. I'm trying to be better with it in this time between my last race and my new program starting - trying new things and not freaking out if I miss a day (or two or three).

    Just know you aren't alone!

    Glad that you are feeling better!

  5. I make my schedule as far in advance as possible and usually stick to it pretty closely unless sick or injured. (That is, unless I'm adding something new or different on top!) I think competitive sports tend to attract the Type A personalities. Hope you feel better!

  6. I wouldn't say I'm "Type A," but I do like having a plan to follow. I don't get all worked up anymore when I don't do a workout, but I love marking off the ones I do!

  7. I'm not a triathlete, but I do find that when I don't have a race to train for I don't run as often as I should to keep my base fitness! I need something on the horizon to keep me motivated.

  8. I follow more of a flex schedule, but I find I must do some form of workout or I start to get antsy. A body in motion likes to stay in motion. I tend to deal with this problem by scheduling events so that I always have a reason to train. My season ended 2 weeks ago in Miami 70.3 and I've already got events booked for each month through next June's IMCDL.



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